Vegetable Bin of Shattered Dreams

Posted on June 29, 2018


Fifteen years ago, LBL’s One-and-Only Daughter left for law school.  To say that LBL was bereft would be an understatement. She and Daughter had been living together for five years, after Daughter had graduated from college and was debating between law shool and grad school. LBL and Daughter had been the best kind of housemates. While LBL was excited to see her having made her big decision, she wasn’t prepared for such decision involving Daughter actually leaving home.

LBL and Daughter hugged and kissed each other on the front porch. Daughter gave LBL a card in an envelope, then got into her car, headed for Brooklyn, in order to get the degree that would enable her to go forth and save the world. LBL went into her empty house, clutching the card.

LBL suspected that the card would contain a long letter, full of clever and heartfelt expressions of love.  Daughter was a master at greeting cards. She never simply signed her name. She always wrote long messages that brought people to tears. LBL decided that she wouldn’t open the card. Instead, she would save it for a time in the future when life might present great difficulty. Then she would open the card and read it.

She placed it in the right side vegetable bin of the refrigerator. Some readers might think it strange to have such a letter sharing space with broccoli and cabbage. But there was a method to LBL’s madness. It was the left side bin that held veggies. The right side was occupied mostly by air.

Putting the letter in a drawer would keep it out of sight. In the bin, LBL would see the envelope every time she opened the refrigerator. After LBL and Now Husband were married, the envelope shared space with a giant bag of Ceylon cinnamon.  Added to that were various photos and several pacifiers that grandsons had outgrown. The negetable bin had become LBL’s little  memory drawer.

Fifteen years passed, and a lot of cinnamon was used and replaced. But to LBL’s great credit, she didn’t open the envelope. She didn’t even open it on election night 2016. Neither did she open it on Inauguration Day 2017. The envelope stayed closed throughout the choosing of cabinet members, the bottomless cesspool of presidential Tweets, the new tax code, the immigration crisis, the total capitulation of the GOP, and all of the ways that America ceased to be the country she had always believed it to be.

Then, a couple weeks ago, a bottle of wine fell over in the refrigerator. Now Husband cleaned the shelves.  Several days later, LBL noticed that something in the vegetable bin seemed wet. It took her another week until she would take a closer look. She realized that the bottom of the bin had wine in it. She took everything out and cleaned the bin.  The cinnamon was fine. The photos were wet. The envelope was soaking wet. She put everything on the counter overnight to dry.

The next morning, the photos were dry. The envelope was dry but had become unsealed. LBL stared at it for a long time. She could see that the card had a cartoon on it. After awhile, she opened it guiltily, as though she were a little kid who had discovered where Mommy and Daddy had hidden the Christmas presents.

Fifteen years is a long time for LBL to have travelled the ups and downs of life without being tempted to open the card. Now, on an ordinary Wednesday evening, when LBL felt no need for such solace that the card would bring, LBL opened the card. She then looked at


Whatever might have been was gone. A closer inspection showed no faint traces of writing, only what looked like a blurry Rorschach test. The message, had there even been one, had been obliterated by wine and time.

LBL phoned One-and-Only Daughter. She told her the story. Daughter laughed and said that she couldn’t remember what, if anything she had written on the card. But she assured LBL that LBL had many other cards she had saved with Daughter’s loving, heartfelt messages. LBL agreed.

LBL placed the card and envelope back in the vegetable bin. She knows there is a message here. Not one written in red pen, but one under the category of life lesson. She just doesn’t know what it is yet.  Don’t hoard love?  Don’t wait for a special moment to receive love?  Be careful not to tip a wine bottle over in the refrigerator? Don’t store cards in the vegetable bin?

If she ever figures it out, the card will be waiting.